Bruno Fornaroli’s dreams of playing for the Socceroos will remain just that after it was confirmed that he is ineligible to play for Australia.
The Melbourne City striker was quoted in a News Limited article on Wednesday as saying that he was wanted to play for Australia if he stays in the country long enough to secure citizenship, which would be possible in 2020 – five years after he arrived.
There is little doubt that Fornaroli, if eligible for Australia, would be the nation’s first-choice option heading into this World Cup and possibly even in 2022, given the paucity of elite strikers.
However, both CONMEBOL and FIFA have confirmed that because Fornaroli played for Uruguay at the 2003 under-17 South American championships in Bolivia, he is only eligible for two countries at senior level – Uruguay and Italy, with whom he also holds a passport.
International football regulations expert James Kitching said under current FIFA law, that Fornaroli hasn’t been capped by Uruguay’s senior team is irrelevant.
“Anyone who participates for a national representative team in any official competition (organised by FIFA or a confederation) is ineligible to participate for any other national representative team, subject to a limited number of exceptions,” he told The World Game.
“The most utilised exception is where a player has never played for the 'A' national senior representative team and only played for youth national representative teams. The player is only permitted to switch sporting nationality if they held the nationality of their new national representative team at the time they first participated for their former youth national representative team.
“In layman's teams, if Fornaroli participated for a Uruguayan youth team in any FIFA or CONMEBOL competition (including qualifiers), he needed to have held Australian nationality on the date of his first match in such competition in order to be eligible to switch sporting nationality.
“Australia has already been through a similar case with Adama Traore, who had played for the Ivory Coast’s under-17 team but had no Australian nationality at the time. More famously, England couldn’t call up Mikel Arteta because of his youth career with Spain.”
Picked alongside future Adelaide United midfielder Francisco Usúcar and champion goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, Fornaroli’s most notable contribution during the under-17 tournament was scoring in the 4-0 group stage romp over Venezuela.
While they qualified from their initial group, which also contained Chile, Ecuador and Brazil, they failed to advance from their second stage group (featuring Brazil, Argentina and Colombia), ultimately finishing fourth.
Kitching, who recently left his position as the Asian Football Confederation's head of legal to start a consulting company, also pointed out that the buzz around Adelaide United midfielder Isaías playing at the World Cup for Australia was also misguided.
“Unfortunately, he will miss out by a matter of months, if not weeks. Because Isaías doesn't qualify through heritage, he would need to have lived continuously in Australia for five years after turning 18,” he said.
“His five years arrives in July 2018, during or after World Cup. But he will be eligible for the 2019 Asian Cup.”